Photo: David McGregor
Dozens of members of the Suwanee community converse during a picnic to discuss the citys 20/20 vision plan on Sunday afternoon..
SUWANEE -- When Scott and Cyndi Auer walked down Stonecypher Road on Sunday afternoon, they were stopped by a passing car, and a woman who saw the makings of a community picnic.
"'We're house shopping," said the woman, Cyndi recalled. "We're not from here, but does this go on all the time?' She was so excited. That's why we live here,"
After about a year of discussions, Suwanee's residents gathered on a warm and sun-splashed Sunday afternoon to discuss the vision of the city for the next decade.
The 20/20 vision plan summarized residents' opinions and priorities that were gathered in roundtables and focus groups by the city and a Philadelphia-based consultant. But the after-church crowd of about 200 at the Everett Music Barn chatted over barbeque sandwiches, side dishes like potato salad and baked beans, and brownies, cookies and sweet tea.
The Everett Family Band then played bluegrass music in the barn to close the afternoon.
Scott Auer and others noted the atmosphere of the gathering, and how it more hearkened back than looked ahead. Residents had their meals on the front lawn, then inside observed segments of the plan presented on posters.
"It's a mix of old-time gather with your neighbors, meet friends, meet some new people, have some dialogue out there, and then come in here and have another chance to comment," he said. "(City officials) continue to go out of their way to get feedback and make sure they're not just stuffing something down the community's throat."
Mayor Jimmy Burnette agreed.
"It's the community and small-town feel that's able to stay in Suwanee," he said. "Over the years we've heard in the planning sessions, we know Suwanee's growing and it's going to continue to grow. But we want to keep the community feel and we were able to work that out to make that happen. These little pieces here are what keep it a small town."
The first draft of the plan was unveiled with seven "guiding principles" or priorities to consider. They were economic development, communications and engagement, parks and open space, transportation, community culture, planning and public safety.
The next steps in the process are the consulting group, Interface Studio, will update the draft with comments from the picnic, its principal Scott Page said. Then the city council will approve it, and the plan will become the city's strategic plan. Finally, the specific items will be discussed each year as part of the budget process.